opinion web
Liberal Opinion Conservative Opinion
Mark Shields
Mark Shields
29 Aug 2015
Pat Moynihan Explains the 2016 Republican Race

Daniel Patrick Moynihan — four-term U.S. senator from New York, ambassador and White House adviser &#… Read More.

15 Aug 2015
Why Bernie Sanders' Big Crowds Count

When Democratic presidential candidates have campaigned in Los Angeles, it has usually been around a private … Read More.

8 Aug 2015
Missing Richard Nixon

John P. Sears, before he was manager of Ronald Reagan's 1976 and 1980 presidential campaigns, had spent the … Read More.

The "Inevitable" Hillary Clinton


Here in Washington, D.C., the home office of political self-promotion — where barely four years ago, fawning sycophants were busy measuring George W. Bush for Mount Rushmore — prevailing Conventional Wisdom has now moved beyond popular consensus over the suddenly "inevitable" presidential nomination of New York senator and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton to pretentious speculation about her choice of a vice presidential running mate (either Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland or former Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Jones).

While ever reluctant to rain on anybody's Inaugural parade, I do feel obliged to offer a few cautionary notes concerning the current stampede to coronation.

First, now that most public-opinion polls and her own prodigious campaign fund-raising have established Clinton as the undisputed favorite for the Democratic nomination, let us stipulate that in a presidential nomination contest, national polls are a lagging political indicator. As of today, both Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and 2004 vice presidential nominee John Edwards are polling better than was Arizona Sen. John McCain at this point in 1999 — just before he thrashed the overwhelming favorite, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, by 18 percent in New Hampshire.

What matters most is not who is leading in Michigan, Ohio or Florida, but instead who wins the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire Primary. Of the last 13 winning presidential candidates, 11 of them first won the New Hampshire Primary, and the other two finished second.

What a big lead in national polls does guarantee the front-running candidate, however, is heightened surveillance and a more suspicious look from reporters. In the wise words of Democratic pollster Peter Hart, "A presidential nominee (even a presumed nominee) is forced to fly at a much higher altitude." One's faults are more widely visible, and an unforgiving press corps will subject to intense scrutiny not just the candidate's own position changes, but as well the possibility of any transactional arrangements involved in her husband's having raised billions from enormously wealthy individuals for his charity in the last few years. Her campaign aides, too, and their economic interests will be examined.

Because of Clinton's tendency to polarize voters' emotions toward her between affection and hostility, Democrats may begin to worry that her nomination could ensure the U.S.

electorate would be frozen in the Red State-Blue State gridlock of the past eight years, where compromise could be unattainable.

One savvy, unaligned Democrat explained this week that a Clinton nomination, with the prospects of re-fighting the battleground states of Florida and Ohio, "would mean that the election of 2008 — like those of 2000 and 2004 — could come down to who can get elected 'president' of Tampa and Toledo."

Further evidence of the Red-State-Blue State problem revisited can be seen in the failure, up to now, of the indefatigable Democratic Senate campaign chief and Clinton endorser, Chuck Schumer of New York, to persuade enormously popular Democratic governors such as Brad Henry of Oklahoma, Dave Freudenthal of Wyoming or Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas to challenge potentially vulnerable Republic incumbent senators in what looks to be a very good Democratic year.

At least part of that resistance could be explained by a public Mason-Dixon poll this summer that asked Montana voters which presidential candidate they "would or would not vote for."

The highest "would consider" candidates were Republicans John McCain (62 percent) and Rudy Giuliani (59 percent). The highest "would consider" Democrats were Barack Obama and Bill Richardson, both at 55 percent. But 61 percent of Montana voters — who have elected two Democratic senators and a Democratic governor — "would not consider" voting for Hillary Clinton.

A poll done for Democrats in Kansas, where Bill Clinton in two presidential elections failed to win more than 38 percent of the vote, showed her being rated 15 percent less favorably than her husband. Her presence at the top of the ticket could potentially hurt Democratic candidates in red states.

But she does have one secret weapon, a genuine ace in the hole. That's the pathological hatred that blinds so many of her opponents on the right. You can count on them going way too far in the ugliness and the unfairness of their attacks upon her to where, if she is the nominee, Americans' sense of fair play could ultimately work to her Election Day advantage. But you can be sure that between now and next February, there will be no coronation.

To find out more about Mark Shields and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at




0 Comments | Post Comment
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right: comments policy
Mark Shields
Aug. `15
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
26 27 28 29 30 31 1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31 1 2 3 4 5
About the author About the author
Write the author Write the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month
Marc Dion
Marc DionUpdated 31 Aug 2015
Mark Shields
Mark ShieldsUpdated 29 Aug 2015
diane dimond
Diane DimondUpdated 29 Aug 2015

16 Jul 2011 The New Pride of the Yankees

6 Aug 2011 It Will Not Be Pretty

19 Apr 2014 Time for Decent Exposure